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UVa now scheduling vaccine appointments for people 65 and older

Blue Ridge Health District residents 65 and older who are pre-registered for the COVID-19 vaccine can now schedule an appointment with the University of Virginia Medical Center.

UVa is vaccinating people at the Seminole Square clinic in the former Big Lots. To schedule an appointment, call (434) 297-4829. To pre-register, go to vaccinate.virginia.gov.

The health district announced the update in a newsletter Monday. UVa will continue to reach out to those who have registered to receive the vaccine until everyone who wants to be vaccinated has appointments.

Those in any category who have pre-registered will receive an email from CDC notifying them when it’s time to schedule an appointment.

The 65 and older category is one of the larger groups in phase 1b that the Blue Ridge Health District wants to finish vaccinating before opening up the vaccine to more people. Meanwhile, other health districts have moved on to 1c, which includes other essential workers such as those in the food service industry. The state is hoping to open up the vaccine to all adults by May 1.

Local health district officials have said that opening up the vaccine to more groups and the pace of vaccinations is contingent on the supply of doses.

For this week, the Blue Ridge Health District is expecting to receive 7,840 first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, slightly more than expected but not as much as requested. That allocation includes 4,000 Johnson & Johnson doses.

In addition to what BRHD receives, area hospitals are getting their own vaccine shipments, a change from recent practice. So far this week, 4,110 first doses were shipped to area hospitals, according to state data.

“Unfortunately, our supply of COVID-19 vaccines remains limited this week, despite our numerous requests for an increase in supply,” the health district said in the newsletter.

So far, 96% of the 138,220 doses shipped to the health district have been administered, according to an analysis of state data, which lags slightly behind the public-facing vaccine dashboard. About 60% of those doses went to area hospitals. The health district, medical practices, pharmacies and other community health providers also received doses.

Before this week, the health department received about 1,441 first doses, on average, per shipment. Since January, the state has distributed vaccine doses based on a health district’s share of the population.

So far, 14% of the state’s doses have gone to the Fairfax health district. Neighboring health district Central Shenandoah has received 166,105 doses.

BRHD has capacity to administer 2,000 shots a day at its JCPenney location, while UVa can do about 1,500 at the Seminole Square site. To reach maximum capacity for five days a week, the district would need 17,500 doses.

“Every week, we ask for more,” said Ryan McKay, the district’s COVID-19 incident commander, last week during a tour of the former JCPenney facility at the Fashion Square Mall, which opened last week.

He said the district and community partners have demonstrated their ability to vaccinate more people, which has helped to lead to more vaccine in some cases.

“It’s not that the state hasn’t provided,” he said. “It’s just not consistent, and we’d love to have that consistency.”

After opening up a larger vaccination clinic at Fashion Square Mall, the health district and other community partners administered 15,275 new doses last week — the district’s highest weekly total of the vaccination effort so far.

More than 250,000 people live in the district, which includes Charlottesville and Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa and Nelson counties.

The health district also has a new website to help provide the community with information about the virus, vaccine and other resources. Redlight Management partnered with the health district to launch BlueRidgeCOVID.org, which is available in English and Spanish.

Free COVID testing is continuing, and the health district is planning to start offering tests to children six and older, starting Friday. The tests will be offered as part of Friday testing events at Buford Middle School, which is located at 1000 Cherry Ave. in Charlottesville from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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